Training in neurobiology is readily available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. There are degree programs that focus on neurobiology, as well as other science-related programs, such as biology, medicine, integrative biology, and developmental biology, that include neurobiology courses. Programs include laboratory work and may provide opportunities for independent study and research depending on the school and program level.
Common concepts studied in neurobiology course include:
- Neural pathways
- Neuronal signaling
- Neurobiology of disease
- Nervous system development
- Integrative functions and systems
Graduates with a 4-year degree in neurobiology will have a solid foundation for work in fields such as behavioral medicine, special education, healthcare, and public policy; they can also pursue graduate work in neurobiology or a related field. PhD graduates are prepared for research, scientific program administration, and teaching.
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List of Common Courses
Basic Neurobiology Course
The basic neurobiology course offers students a fundamental introduction to the field. Topics include the structure and function of neurons, the role of synapses in neural communication, cellular signaling systems, and membrane receptors. Course material also goes into the manner in which the brain and spinal cord are organized and how they manage the nervous system. Students learn about sensory processing and the programming of motor functions along with speech, memory, learning, and cognition. Other areas that might be covered in the curriculum include neuroanatomy, neural development, and ion channels. This is a 1-semester course, though more advanced classes in the field of neurobiology may go into individual aspects of this course in significantly more depth.
Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
Students of cellular neurobiology learn about cellular neurophysiology, action and membrane potential, and synaptic transmission. These subjects usually coincide with molecular and developmental neurobiology, and the curriculum for these courses tends to include subjects such as the molecular properties of nerve cells, the principles of nervous system development, the ionic and molecular basis of excitability, and signal transduction. Other subjects can include the molecular biology of channels and receptors, including voltage-dependent channels, and neurotransmitter receptors, as well as the biology of supramolecular mechanisms.
Systems neurobiology deals with neural determination; the basics of integrative neural function; sensory, motor, and limbic systems; axon guidance; and neuron-target interaction. Combined with behavioral and cognitive neurobiology, the subject matter expands to include neuroethology: a study of the synaptic connections between neurons and the mechanisms they use to create sensory perception and behavior outputs. The neural processes behind learning, motivation, and cognition are also examined.